If you have a certain type of psoriasis, you might be wondering if Otezla (apremilast) or Humira (adalimumab) could treat your condition.

Otezla and Humira are prescription drugs used to treat:

Both drugs have other uses as well. See the “What are Otezla and Humira used for?” section below to learn more.

There isn’t currently a generic version of Otezla. (A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication that’s made from chemicals.)

Humira is a biologic medication, which means that it’s made from living cells. It’s not available in a biosimilar form. (Biosimilars are like generic drugs. But unlike generics, which are made for non-biologic drugs, biosimilars are made for biologic drugs.)

Keep reading to learn more about how Otezla and Humira are alike and different.

Note: For more information about these drugs, see these in-depth articles on Otezla and Humira.

Otezla contains the active drug apremilast. Apremilast belongs to a drug class called disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). (A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way.)

Humira contains the active drug adalimumab. Adalimumab belongs to a drug class called tumor necrosis factor-alpha blockers.

Otezla and Humira are used to treat some of the same conditions, but they each treat additional conditions as well.

Both Otezla and Humira may be used alone or with other medications to treat these conditions.

Some people may experience mild or serious side effects while taking either Otezla or Humira. The sections below list the possible side effects of these drugs.

For more information about possible side effects, see these in-depth articles on Otezla and Humira.

Mild side effects

Otezla and Humira may cause mild side effects in some people. The chart below lists examples of mild side effects that can occur with these drugs.

OtezlaHumira
Back painXX
Belly painXX
Decreased appetiteX
DiarrheaX
Flu-like symptomsX
HeadacheXX
High cholesterolX
Injection site reactionsX
Nausea and vomitingXX
RashX
Respiratory infectionsXX
SinusitisX
Urinary tract infectionX
Weight lossX
Fatigue (lack of energy)X
Insomnia (trouble sleeping)X

This chart may not include all mild side effects of these drugs. For a complete list of side effects, see Otezla’s safety information and Humira’s medication guide.

Serious side effects

In addition to the mild side effects listed above, serious side effects may occur in people using Otezla or Humira. See the chart below for the possible side effects of these drugs.

OtezlaHumira
Allergic reactionXX
Blood disordersX
CancerX
DepressionXX
Heart failureX
Lupus-like syndromeX
Nervous system conditions, such as multiple sclerosisX
Serious infections, such as tuberculosis and hepatitis BX
Severe diarrheaX
Severe nausea and vomitingX
Severe weight lossX
Thoughts of suicideX
Suicide prevention

If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
  • Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

Whether you have health insurance or not, cost may be a factor when you’re considering these drugs. To see cost estimates for Otezla and Humira based on where you live, visit WellRx.com.

Keep in mind that what you’ll pay for either drug will depend on your treatment plan, your health insurance, and the pharmacy you use. And if you use Humira and receive your doses at your doctor’s office, you may also have additional costs for your office visits.

Both Otezla and Humira are brand-name medications.

There isn’t currently a generic version of Otezla. (A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication that’s made from chemicals.)

Humira is a biologic medication, which means that it’s made from living cells. It’s not available in a biosimilar form. (Biosimilars are like generic drugs. But unlike generics, which are made for non-biologic drugs, biosimilars are made for biologic drugs.) You’ll usually pay more for brand-name drugs than for generics or biosimilars.

Otezla comes as a tablet that you take by mouth twice per day.

Humira, on the other hand, comes as a liquid that’s given by subcutaneous injection (an injection given under the skin). It’s available in the following forms:

  • single-dose pen
  • prefilled syringes
  • single-dose vial (given by a healthcare provider only)

Your dosage of either drug will depend on the treatment plan your doctor prescribes for you. And with Otezla, your dosage may be lower if you have kidney problems. Talk with your doctor to learn more.

You may be wondering whether Otezla or Humira are effective for treating your condition.

These drugs are both used to treat plaque psoriasisand psoriatic arthritis. In addition, both drugs are used for other purposes. (To learn more, see the “What are Otezla and Humira used for?” section above.)

Studies of Otezla and Humira have found both drugs to be effective for treating these conditions.

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends both drugs as treatment options in its psoriasis treatment guidelines. In addition, the American College of Rheumatology recommends both drugs as treatment options in its psoriatic arthritis treatment guidelines.

If you’d like to learn more about how each drug performed in clinical studies, see the prescribing information for Otezla and Humira.

Otezla or Humira may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take either drug.

Boxed warnings for Humira

Humira has boxed warnings. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Serious infections. Humira works by weakening your immune system. Because of this, using Humira could raise your risk for serious infections like tuberculosis (TB) that may lead to a hospital stay or death. And if you have an active* infection, using Humira could make it worse. Before you start treatment with Humira, your doctor will test you for TB and check for any other active infections. If you do have an infection, your doctor will likely want to treat it first.

Cancer. Drugs such as Humira can raise your risk for lymphomas and other cancers. Tell your doctor if you’ve had cancer or any tumors in the past. They’ll determine whether Humira or another treatment might be best for you.

* An infection is active if it’s currently causing symptoms.

Other warnings

In addition to the boxed warnings described above, the lists below include warnings for Otezla and Humira.

Before using Otezla or Humira, talk with your doctor if you have any of the following conditions or health factors.

These lists may not contain all warnings for Otezla and Humira. For more information about these drugs, see these in-depth articles on Otezla and Humira.

The short answer: It’s possible, depending on the condition you’re using the drug to treat.

Details: Otezla and Humira are both approved for treating plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. If you’re treating one of these conditions, your doctor may have you switch from one of these drugs to the other. But switching from Otezla to Humira is much more likely than switching from Humira to Otezla.

If you’re switching from Otezla to Humira, your doctor may have you “taper” your Otezla dosage. With a drug taper, you gradually lower your dosage over time until you stop taking the drug.

Or, your doctor may have you stop taking the drug right away without a taper. They’ll determine the best way for you to switch medications.

Reminder: You shouldn’t switch drugs or stop your current treatment unless your doctor recommends it.

It’s unlikely that you’ll use Otezla and Humira together. Current guidelines for treating plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis don’t recommend using Otezla and Humira together.

More information is needed to know whether it would be safe or effective to use these drugs together. If you have questions about using other medications with Otezla or Humira, talk with your doctor.

Otezla and Humira are both prescription drugs used to treat plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. In addition, they both have other uses as well. (To learn more, see the “What are Otezla and Humira used for?” section above.)

One main difference between Otezla and Humira is how they’re given. Otezla comes as a tablet that you take by mouth twice per day. Humira, on the other hand, comes as a liquid given by subcutaneous injection (an injection given under the skin). You can either give yourself injections at home or get them in your doctor’s office.

If you have questions about Otezla and Humira, talk with your doctor. Some questions you may consider asking include:

  • Is either Otezla or Humira better for treating my condition?
  • Would Otezla or Humira interact with other medications I’m taking?
  • Would Otezla or Humira affect any other conditions I may have?

Q:

Are Otezla and Humira safe for me if I’m over age 65 years?

Anonymous patient

A:

Possibly. But you may have a higher risk for certain side effects, depending on which drug you use. Below is information from studies of Humira and Otezla.

  • In studies of Humira: People ages 65 years and older who used Humira were more likely to get infections and certain cancers than younger people. Before using Humira, talk with your doctor about your risk for these side effects.
  • In studies of Otezla: People ages 65 years and older who used Otezla had similar side effects as younger people. But it’s important to note that people with severe kidney problems may need a lower dosage of Otezla. And people ages 65 years and older may be more likely to have kidney problems. Before using Otezla, talk with your doctor if you have kidney problems or have had them before.

If you’re over age 65 years, talk with your doctor to learn if one of these drugs may be right for you.

Dana Kim, PharmDAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.